Military News

Saturday, August 21, 2010

NECC Hosts Congressional, Senate Staff Members

By MC2 (SCW) Paul D. Williams, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- Nine Congressional and Senate staff members visited Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) Aug. 19 to familiarize themselves with the day-to-day operations of expeditionary units homported and deployed, and to receive feedback on Sailor wellness and deployment operations.

"These Congressional and Senate staff members visited NECC to better understand the mission of maritime forces operating in the littorals and inland waterways," said Capt. David McDuffie, NECC director of plans and policy. "Staff members also had an opportunity to see our equipment and meet with expeditionary Sailors who recently returned from deployment."

The group began their tour with hands-on displays from Navy Expeditionary Intelligence Command, Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training Command, Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group, Maritime Expeditionary Security Group 2 and Naval Construction Forces. The group was then taken on a boat ride on Riverine craft, and given a demonstration of Riverine capabilities.

After leaving the waterside, the staffers gathered at NECC headquarters for a briefing about each of the command's units and capabilities. NECC leadership discussed the varied ways in which NECC is able to complete missions ranging from combat operations to stability to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

"NECC provides rapidly deployable and agile expeditionary forces, of which more than 50 percent of its forces are deployed in 41 countries on seven continents," said Lt. Cmdr. John Gay, facilitator of the command briefing. "Essential to NECC's success is the fact they are made up of active duty and Reserve mission specialists. The Reserve Sailors make up 53 percent of the NECC Force, and come from units homeported across the U.S., not just in fleet concentration areas. These men and women are trained and equipped as operational units and deploy just like their active duty counterparts."

Once they were armed with this information, the staffers learned of NECC's most important asset - its Sailors and their families, who join them in the sacrifice they provide in defense of their country. While mission accomplishment is the goal, taking care of the member and family readiness is what makes mission accomplishment possible.

The last stop of the day for the group was a visit to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Training and Evaluation Unit 2, where they met with Rear Adm. Michael Tillotson, NECC commander, for a tour of the training compound. There they witnessed first hand EOD capabilities and training techniques from EOD technicians.

"When deployed, NECC Sailors meet irregular challenges everyday and this visit gave us an opportunity to share challenges," said McDuffie. "By sharing our challenges we have the opportunity to educate Congressional and Senate staff members on why expeditionary forces are not only important during war, but also the critical role of the Navy in preventing future wars."

NECC commands and capabilities provide a full range of mission-essential resources to combatant commanders. By offering visitors an opportunity to experience some of the tasks NECC performs they can see and hear from the expeditionary Sailors who have been there, what a vital contribution these men and women provide.

USS Boise Anchors First Navy Week

By Mass Communication Specialist Cheryl Dilgard, Navy Office of Community Outreach Public Affairs

BOISE, Idaho (NNS) -- Boise, Idaho kicked off its first ever Navy Week in conjunction with the Western Idaho Fair Aug. 20.

Boise Navy Week will run through Aug. 29 and will be celebrated with daily events at the fair and throughout Boise, providing a glimpse into Navy life.

"The purpose of Navy Week is to give a snap shot of the Navy and the jobs Sailors do, to communities that are not necessarily near the ocean", said Rear Adm. Douglas J. Asbjornsen, Special Assistant for Integrated Undersea Warfare, Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command.

Asbjornsen met with the Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter to kick off Boise Navy Week and signed an official proclamation announcing Boise Navy Week on the steps of the state capitol.

"I have been to Boise many times," said Asbjornsen. "In fact, the Navy Operational Support Center Boise is one of five centers that I proudly sponsor. Boise is a great town with fantastic people. I am glad to be here. Boise is a very supportive of the military. Approximately 2000 residents are serving in the Navy."

Boise Navy Week highlights will include performances and clinics by the U.S. Navy Band Northwest "Passage", the Navy's parachute demonstration team the "Leap Frogs", and a Sea Cadets fun run. Sailors will also be participating in community service activities and demonstrations with Habitat for Humanity, activities at the Discovery Center, the Warhawk Museum and the YMCA.

A video message from USS Boise (SSN 764) crew members will be shown at Boise State University Stadium during a pre-season scrimmage football game.

NAS Whidbey Island SAR Rescues Injured Teen

By Kimberly Martin, NAS Whidbey Island Public Affairs

HOODSPORT, Wash. (NNS) -- Naval Air Station Whidbey Island search and rescue (SAR) personnel responded to a call for assistance from the Mason County Sheriff's Office Aug. 17.

A 15-year old girl had fallen off a cliff and into the river in Skokomish River Canyon while hiking with her family.

SAR launched an MH-60S Knighthawk with a crew of six personnel. Ground rescue teams reached the injured hiker and rendered first aid.

Once on location, the SAR crew analyzed the situation and began conducting basic operational risk management, taking everything into consideration in order to embark on a safe and successful extraction mission. The biggest obstacle was the 450-foot High Steel Bridge spanning the canyon.

Lt. Brandon Sheets, SAR pilot and mission commander, said the crew conducted power checks, determined wind levels and direction, checked the clearances under the bridge and ran through the scenario.

"When we showed up we took a deep breath, surveyed everything and formulated a plan," said Sheets. "Once we had a good plan we knew we could do it safely."

The pilots flew the aircraft into position and held it in a steady hover so SAR crew member Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Richmond Roy, could rappel down to the river with the litter.

Due to the river's current and the wind kicked up by the rotor blades, Roy stayed on the line. He said thanks in part to the ground rescue crew the patient was ready for transfer. She was placed in a litter, carried to the line and then hooked for a lift up into the helicopter with Roy.

"The rotors caused a funnel of wind in the canyon and that's what made us spin more than usual," said Roy. "I was able to slow it down some (with arm motions)."

The entire time the aircraft was under the bridge, the crew had eyes on the rotors and was calling out distances to ensure they maintained adequate clearances on both sides. Sheets said he estimates they were actually on scene no more than 11 minutes, even though it felt longer.

"Lt. Zenner did an awesome job holding the bird rock solid," said Roy. "That made it possible to get the patient hooked up and in the aircraft so quickly."

Once in the aircraft, the pilots maneuvered the helicopter back out from under the bridge, gained elevation out of the canyon and headed east for Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

NAS Whidbey Island's SAR crews have successfully conducted 17 missions this year.

Sailors Compete in 'Call of Duty' Tournament at Surface Line Week

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Crosby, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Local Sailors matched video game skills against shipmates at the first-ever "Call of Duty" tournament at Surface Line Week at Naval Base San Diego Aug. 19.

A total of 65 teams from small, medium and large commands throughout the local area participated in the competition featuring the "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" game.

The tournament started with Sailors practicing techniques and warming up with pre-matches. Once the brackets were established, the games started and the process of whittling down the teams in single-elimination play began.

According to event organizers, all the players started with default settings, but some tried to get an edge with personal profiles, and others brought in their own controllers.

"I feel like it brings me luck because I'm always playing with it," said Operations Specialist 2nd Class Arturo Rios, an El Paso, Texas, native assigned to USS Rushmore (LSD 47).

Rios said he felt a bit more experienced than the guys playing at the tournament and wanted to win to earn some special liberty. His efforts earned his team second place in the competition.

This is the first year Sailors with Surface Line Week introduced the "Call of Duty" tournament into the competition.

"We were looking to do something new to involve more Sailors," said Yeoman 1st Class Shanta Davis. "Along with the video games, more events were added to reach out to more junior Sailors."

Surface Line Week, a 10-day contest sponsored by Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (CNSP), will run through Aug. 20. This marquee event features a series of activities dedicated to friendly competition in a variety of seamanship and sporting events. SLW will conclude with an awards ceremony on Aug. 20, followed by the annual Surface Warrior Ball Aug. 21.

For more information on SLW events, please contact the CNSP Public Affairs Office at 619-437-2735

Harry S. Truman CSG Responds to Fire, Rescues Mariners

From USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Public Affairs

USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- Units assigned to Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (CSG) rescued eight Iranian mariners in the Arabian Sea Aug. 18.

At approximately 8:45 p.m., while conducting a routine mission over the northern Arabian Sea, an F/A-18 Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 37 spotted a vessel approximately 50 miles from USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) that was on fire and in distress.

Two SH-60 Sea Hawk helicopters from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 7 were dispatched to render assistance, arriving on station at approximately 9:30 p.m.

A helicopter search and rescues swimmer was deployed into the water and discovered eight people in the raft.

The first helicopter recovered four mariners and transported them back to Truman. A short time later, the remaining four mariners were recovered by the second helicopter. The mariners told the aircrew that all of their personnel on the vessel were accounted for, and the helicopters conducted a sweep of the area prior to returning to Truman.

During the transit back to Truman, the aircrew distributed blankets and coordinated with the ship to have dry clothes and footwear ready for the stranded mariners upon arrival to the carrier.

Truman's Medical Department set up a medical triage in the hangar bay upon receiving word that the SH-60s were inbound with the eight mariners.

The assessment by Truman's medical staff revealed that the eight were in excellent shape with no significant injuries. The medical department provided them with food, water and a fresh change of clothing.

"It was a great team effort by the Truman Strike Group," said Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll, commander, Carrier Strike Group 10. "It is our duty as a professional Navy and as professional Sailors to help those in need of assistance. We have a longstanding tradition of helping mariners in distress – providing medical assistance, engineering assistance and search and rescue. There was no hesitation on the part of our aircrew and rescue swimmer to help out our fellow seafarers."

The eight mariners will remain on the ship until arrangements can be made for their safe return home.

The Harry S. Truman Strike Group is on a regularly scheduled deployment to the 5th Fleet area of responsibility in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Airman's Donation Saves Life

By Joe N. Wiggins
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 20, 2010 - When most airmen come into the Air Force, they know their service could include being called upon to do something that could save a life. However, one airman answered the call in a way very few could.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Charles Newberry, a personnel specialist assigned to the 311th Air Base Group's military personnel flight here, volunteered in 2007 to register as a bone marrow donor. His decision recently saved the life of a servicemember's 2-year-old child.

"While I don't know his name, as soon as I heard who it was, and that he has a rare condition called aplastic anemia, I thought, 'Yeah, I'll gladly do what I can to help out the little guy,'" Newberry said.

Aplastic anemia causes bone marrow to produce an insufficient amount of red and white blood cells or blood platelets. A bone marrow transplant can be the only effective treatment in severe cases.

When he became aware of what his donation could mean, Newberry said, he was eager to volunteer.

"I was surprised when I found out I was a match, but helping someone else's child was clearly something I wanted to do," he said. "My wife and mom were a little skeptical about the operation, but I think my enthusiasm won them over, and they were both supportive of me being a donor."

Newberry's organization and supervisor also were behind his decision.

"I thought his volunteering was very admirable, and a great thing to be willing to do," said Air Force Capt. Troy Lane, commander of the personnel flight. "I was impressed with his excitement to do it."

Newberry said the procedure wasn't very painful or lengthy.

"The surgeons removed the marrow from my lower back after the first day of tests and screening at the hospital," he said. "I was up and walking around the next day and only had to wear some small bandages for about a week."

In addition to his family, Newberry said, the military community also was supportive. "In addition to being given time off from my duty location, [Defense Department officials] sponsored my flight and expenses," he said. "I went through a process of questions and phone interviews before leaving for the trip, but once everything was approved there was no cost involved for me or my family."

Newberry is one of about 500 servicemembers who are matched to a patient and donate bone marrow each year. About 600,000 servicemembers have registered as marrow donors as part of the C.W. Bill Young Department of Defense Marrow Donor Program.

Volunteers like Newberry are critical for many patients awaiting a match. According to the National Marrow Donor Program, about 70 percent of those needing a transplant do not have a matching donor in their family. Usually used to fight leukemia and lymphoma, a bone marrow donation often is a victim's last chance at beating a potentially fatal disease.

More than 10,000 patients each year are diagnosed with these life-threatening diseases. A patient's doctor can contact the program's database of 8 million potential donors in the United States and another 5 million potential donors in international registries.

The C.W. Bill Young Department of Defense Marrow Donor Center is located in Rockville, Md., and is charged with supporting Defense Department bone marrow volunteers. It is one of 79 donor centers that work with the National Marrow Donor Program.

Established by Congress in 1990, the Defense Department program is open to any military member or civilian and their family members, including Coast Guard and reserve-component members, in good health between the ages of 18 and 60.